Explaining statistics and non-significant relative risk to the Vioxx jury
“So how do you explain these issues to a Texas jury? Well, the defendants argued these 5 to 1 odds aren’t statistically significant, to which the plaintiff’s lawyer Mark Lanier offered this folksy rejoinder (hat tip: Newmark’s Door):
Have you got $6 on you? I’m going to give you a dollar and you give me the six. It is not statistically significant in the difference. What do you think, are you in or out?
Sure, Mr. Lanier, I’m in, though here’s how the deal actually works– you give me the dollar, but you don’t know whether I give you $6 or I give you nothing. Or, to be a little more accurate, even if there actually is an elevated risk of the magnitude the studies suggest but can’t prove, the question is whether I might want to accept a 1 in 4,000 risk of dying from a heart attack in order to get the only medication that makes my pain bearable and a mobile life livable. And if I say no to the Vioxx, I may end up taking something that is less effective for my pain but has risks of its own.” (via PointofLaw.com)